COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The Columbus community has seen an outpouring of support after the tragic drowning of six-year-old Jeremiah Henderson in the Chattahoochee River last month. From life jackets to donations, people are wanting to prevent another tragedy, including one man who expressed a different way to help keep people stay safe.
This week, Columbus resident Chandler Tabler ordered a group of people off the rocks when they drifted too far for comfort.
“I went over there and I told them they needed to get out of the water. They didn’t have any type of life protection on. All it takes is one slip and fall and they’re gone,” says Tabler.
Tabler says he was at the river earlier this week when saw a group of people far off on the rocks dancing. They were surrounded by rushing water: a safety hazard that could now warrant a citation from Columbus Police. That’s when he made a choice that possibly saved their lives.
“They were just walking along the lines of the rocks. The rocks are only two feet wide so they don’t have a lot of walkway and it increases their chances of falling into the water which made all the more reason for me to say something."
Dan Gilbert, the owner of Whitewater Express says it’s something they see every day.
“People out on the rocks? Oh, every day. That’s a common thing here on the river,” Gilbert explains.
He says when the water rises they’ve had to do a number of rescues because people get trapped on the islands and he worries things could end up much worse for them.
“You’ve got to realize the water comes up. Every day sometimes twice a day the water rises, so a lot of people get out there and don’t know it and they get stuck on a rock and it’s very dangerous,” says Gilbert.
As dangerous as it is, he says it’s under reported which is why he says it’s rare to see someone like Tabler jumping into action to order people off the rocks.
“That’s kind of dangerous. People need to be safe while on the river,” says Gilbert.
Whitewater Express says they normally have anywhere from 80 to 100 people on the river every day. Gilbert says sometimes they stop what they’re doing to help people who may be trapped. Gilbert says most of those who are trapped do not have a flotation device on. They’re wanting to make sure everyone is safe and applauds Tabler for his action.